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Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:28:25 +0200
From: beloumi <>
Subject: Re: [PHC] What is "basic cryptography" ?

> On a (not so) related note, I was surprised when Bill mentioned (not)
> keeping things in memory (I don't recall the exact wording) as falling
> under "basic cryptography". To me, it does not. It may be a property
> of the hashing scheme - that is, the scheme is such that sensitive
> data is naturally overwritten early on with no processing cost
> overhead compared to performance-optimized evaluation of the hash -
> which is nice, but typically has drawbacks for some use cases (it
> typically implies slower memory usage growth than would be possible
> with a slightly different design). Or it may be a property of an
> implementation (explicit zeroization or e.g. self-test performed after
> actual hash computation). I think neither of these cases falls into a
> category overlapping with "basic cryptography". In fact, the latter -
> property of an implementation - is irrelevant to PHC at this point
> (can be taken care of later), although the PHC relevant aspect is that
> it's not as safe as the former (but might not have the drawback I
> mentioned).

Data are more or less sensitive and the password is maybe the most
sensitive data, because it might be used in other applications too.
There are data which easily allow to finish the key derivation and also
data which only reduces the cost of an attack (for example a part of the
memory hard vector of scrypt). Zeroization of a memory hard vector has
performance drawbacks, but zeroization of the password doesn't.

I think this is not only a property of the implementation. For example
bcrypt uses the password nearly the whole execution time, so the scheme
does not allow early zeroization of the password (as I can see this also
applies to scrypt and PBKDF2).

This is surely not a main topic, but especially password hashing schemes
have long execution times and uses large amounts of memory, so a cold
boot attack or the risk of swapping is more relevant than for other
crypto topics.

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